Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Readers’ letters: Matt Hancock in the jungle, the benefits of a new Dons stadium and a letter from Ian Yuill

Matt Hancock in the I'm A Celebrity jungle
Matt Hancock in the I'm A Celebrity jungle

Sir, – Having watched and listened to Matt Hancock every day for a long time as he addressed the nation on matters regarding the Covid pandemic I was very impressed by the way he gave up-to-date information which I am sure helped a lot.

But seeing Matt in the Australian jungle, I was more impressed by the way he presented himself and carried out horrific tasks in very poor conditions with all sorts of animals and beasties.

He never once complained about those tasks and did, in fact, come back with the largest amount of stars so that the campmates could perhaps enjoy a jungle-orientated meal.

He was a good ambassador for the programme and himself. He never complained about anything or anyone in the camp and came out of the jungle in third place – not too bad for a guy who is getting stabbed in the back by many people.

It now looks as if he will no longer stay in politics, but I am sure there are many worldwide companies that will want his services due to his down-to-earth attitude and fearless personality.

Well done Matt, enjoy whatever you do.

Gavin Elder, Prunier Drive, Peterhead.

Ambitious football stadium plan would be major goal for city

Sir, – TEXO Group is a proud sponsor of Aberdeen Football Club. As an Aberdeen-headquartered business operating across the UK, we are fully supportive of the proposals in the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce and MKA Economics report, which was jointly commissioned by the club and Aberdeen City Council.

Aberdeen has a proud community history and the football club is a central part of that. The beach regeneration project would not only create a significant number of much-needed long-term jobs in the city, it would also increase visitors at a time when positive change is critical to the future of the city and the wider community.

As a business that is striving towards its own net-zero goals, the creation of a net-zero sea-facing stadium aligns with them – and those of many businesses and individuals across the city.

It is an ambitious plan, certainly, but it is ambition that drives progress, improves economic outlook and increases the standard of living for everyone involved.

I very much hope that the council will move these plans forward and that we will all be able to celebrate an innovative, sustainable and aspirational development that will transform lives and businesses across Aberdeen.

Chris Smit, Managing director, Texo Group, Venture Drive, Westhill.

City core challenges just being ignored

Sir, – I refer to Scott Crighton Styles’ article in Wednesday’s Press and Journal.

Aberdeen faces particular challenges. An economy that is in decline, an ageing population and housing stock, empty offices, hotels and guest houses struggling for customers, too many cafes, empty business units.

I agree with Scott that creating more shops and a pier are not logical solutions, it is best to rethink how we use existing buildings and space and the better use of St Marks and Woolmanhill could be part of the solution.

However, rather than getting to the core challenges the city faces they are largely ignored.

The challenge coming our way in the form of climate change means that we have to move away from carbon-generating industry. This gives the city many opportunities.

We have the skills to start creating the alternative jobs here in Aberdeen and many that have left the city would return if work was available.

Why are we not producing all the wind turbines here in Aberdeen rather than buying them from abroad? Why are our energy providers not locally owned? We also need to produce energy-saving solutions and we could make Aberdeen a centre for this kind of technology and businesses required.

Many of our homes require insulation, the use of energy-saving pumps, and solar panels. Our empty business units could be used to set up the businesses required. Offices, cafes, hotels and guest houses will only get used if business is generating money for our economy.

An ageing population means that we need to develop a care sector which is fit for purpose. Having a larger and better-paid care workforce would also mean that their wages would be spent in the economy. To pay for this we need to rethink how we raise taxes at both a local and national level so that those that have the money, often elderly themselves, pay their fair share.

Given the ever-increasing spending on our health service, we need a healthier population and transport solutions should no longer be car-centred.

Disastrous decisions have been made in the way the city is planned and run leading to the challenges we now face. Aberdeen has so much to offer with its wonderful parks, seafront and surrounding countryside, universities, and its people. We need a plan and resulting solutions that actually deals with the challenges we face.

Jonathan Russell, Springbank Place, Aberdeen.

The ‘beautiful’ game has turned very ugly

Sir, – Just been watching the World Cup. The once “beautiful” game is no longer the case – football, as we knew it, is dead.

It should be called the boring game. It is a sad day when the back three or four defenders have many more touches of the football than the midfield players.

This passing back and forth across the back is so boring, especially when it is passed back to the goalkeeper. The powers that be must find a way to stop this, especially when a team has a corner kick. Instead of kicking the ball into an opponents’ penalty area they pass it all the way back to their own keeper.

The blatant diving is becoming a bit of a joke. Nobby Stiles and Dave MacKay must be turning in their graves. That is cheating and should be eradicated from the game.

Some refereeing decisions are strange – rugby tackling in the penalty area at corners appears to be allowed. Some shoulder-charges are allowed yet others are not. Two players shoulder-charge each other and the one that falls to the ground gets the foul.

A forward backs into the defender if he cannot control the ball, dives on his face and again is given the foul.

Can anyone tell me, when a forward pushes the ball past the defender in midfield who then blocks the forward’s run, why the referee awards a foul obstruction against the defender? Or if the forward does the same close to an opponent’s goal line and the defender blocks him getting to the ball, why the ref gives a foul against the forward or the ball is allowed to run out for a goal kick?

Don’t get me started with hand ball, or the linesman not immediately putting his flag up for offside, or stealing five or 10 yards at a throw-in, or a player blatantly claiming a throw-in when the whole stadium can see he is the last player to touch the ball.

Finally, what happened to sportsmanship? A team defending a one-goal lead by shielding the ball in the corner and not allowing their opponents near it is unsporting.

When is football going to ask rugby why their referees command respect, while football referees are regularly abused and surrounded? It is probably worse since the introduction of VAR.

Alan Benton, Portstown Crescent, Inverurie.

Development is all about community

Sir, – Does Aberdeen City Council want the city to flourish or not?

The prospect of a new stadium at the beach not only for Aberdeen FC but for the wider community, is one that councillors should be falling over themselves to support.

While there are financial challenges, the report undertaken by the club and the council to demonstrate the socio-economic benefits of the development far outweigh the initial suggested costs.

This is a discussion beyond sentiment and emotion.

Keeping Aberdeen FC in the city would not only be of a huge benefit to the club but also elevate the beachfront and give the area a focal point that it is sorely missing at the minute.

Let’s not reduce this to an argument about whether to support a football club or not but elevate it towards securing the future prosperity of our city centre for all.

Phil McKenzie, Silverburn Road, Bridge of Don.

Unionists need to pin back their ears

Sir, – Ian Lakin proves that he does not understand the deficit question as it relates to Scotland.

I will repeat, just for him, the Scottish Government balances the books, it is a legal necessity. The so-called “deficit”, therefore, comes from the money spent on and for Scotland by the UK Government, most of which is sheer guesswork

He talks of the Barnett formula as if the settlement is a handout from the UK Government. In reality, it is the return of a mere part of taxation raised in Scotland. The difference is held back to cover reserved matters.

That money would be better spent by an independent Scottish Government, which will have different priorities from the present and previous UK administrations

As I said, savings will come from no longer paying for Trident or for imperialist wars. Money would also be saved by not having to help pay for grandiose English schemes – HS2 and London Crossrail to name but two high-cost projects.

Both went dramatically over budget and do not benefit Scotland one iota.

Mr Lakin trots out the same old stories that Tories and unionists like to drag up when talking about independence, such as the economy and finances.

He should perhaps look at the success stories relating to small states. Norway and the other Scandinavian countries for example.

Also, Ireland is a prime example of a wealthy state: exports are 120% of GDP whereas the UK stands in 17th place with exports at 30.5% of GDP.

On productivity, Ireland leads the way on 194.6 to the UK’s 14th place on 99.4.

I reckon Scotland will fare as well as any of the small European countries.

What he is really saying is that Scotland is too wee to become independent. Well, Mr Lakin, it is funny how smaller nations top the table on various measures while the UK languishes well down the list.

As for the currency question, there may be a time gap but not nearly as long as the Growth Commission set out.

As an example, on independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991 Estonia had its own currency up and running by June 1992.

Why do you think it is impossible for Scotland to achieve a similar outcome? Too stupid maybe, is that it Mr Lakin?

The downsides he spoke of probably refer to the unionist view that there will be a loss of jobs, both civilian and military, resulting from the assumed, closure of military bases, a subject close to the heart of Ian Gray specifically (letters, December 3).

An independent Scotland would have defence forces, RAF Lossiemouth would continue as the main air base in an independent Scotland and, if we were to join Nato, there would be additional activity in the area.

In short, Lossiemouth will not close. Similarly, Kinloss would remain as a barracks for our army defence units.

A few questions; why would Scotland be unable to borrow? Other similarly-sized countries were able to borrow on independence, why would Scotland be different? Why would we not be able to fund state pensions – too poor, Mr Lakin?

And with “too poor” we complete the tired old mantra from unionists who are intent on talking Scotland down as being too wee, too poor, too stupid.

Hamish McBain, Green Street, Rothes.

Street U-turn claims wrong

Sir, – In his letter published on December 7, Simon Rae suggested that I “stood for pedestrianisation of Union Street before the council elections, then reversed that position once in power”.

That is simply not the case.

Long before the council election in May, my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I were making the case to remove the emergency spaces for people measures and reopen central Union Street to buses.

On August 25 last year, at a meeting of the council’s city growth and resources committee, I proposed removing the spaces for people interventions from Union Street as soon as was practical which would have allowed buses back on to central Union Street. That was rejected by the Conservative and Labour councillors who at that time formed the council administration.

On November 12 last year, at another meeting of the city growth and resources committee, I proposed reopening central Union Street. That was again rejected.

On January 12, at a special council meeting called by the Liberal Democrat and SNP councillors, the Conservative and Labour councillors blocked our attempt to discuss a Lib Dem-SNP proposal to reopen central Union Street to buses.

On February 28, in the face of continued Conservative and Labour opposition, the Liberal Democrats, SNP, and one independent councillor won a vote to reopen central Union Street to buses.

Doing so has improved access, especially for people with disabilities and limited mobility.

It has helped bring life back into that part of Union Street. The changes planned for the streetscape of that part of Union Street will increase the area available for pedestrians and retain access for buses.

Councillor Ian Yuill.

Rates are final straw

Sir, – Scottish business rates are the straw that breaks the camel’s back and many companies in Scotland simply can’t afford the excessive charges which are forcing companies into bankruptcy.

The Scottish Government must urgently produce a relief package for rates to offset massive energy costs being faced by Scottish companies or otherwise face considerable loss of revenue from company closures.

It is crystal clear that the SNP anti-business policy regards Scottish businesses as the goose that lays the golden egg, providing funds to be redistributed to social benefits in Scotland.

Dennis Forbes Grattan.